In preparation of our friend Ellen Silverman borrowing our space to shoot a video, we decided to tackle the long-neglected job of cleaning our very tarnished silver (we’ve been BUSY!) We pulled out the silver polish and started rubbing…and rubbing…and rubbing…quickly realizing that it would take us FOREVER to get the job done. We knew there had to be some old fashioned method —akin to the way we cleaned our copper pots with salt and vinegar — so did a quick search online. We found the DIY version of a the “miracle Museum Precious Metals Cleaning Plate” Hammacher Schlemmer sells for for $29.95. It was worth a shot.

cleaning silver 2

We lined the sink with alumium foil, filled it with a few inches of hot water and sprinkled in a few tablespoons each of baking soda and salt...stirred to dissolve and threw in the silver. (Note: we’ve since found that baking soda alone works best.) Then we waited.

cleaning silver 1

After a half hour or much of the tarnish had moved from the silver to the foil through “electrolytic action”. Some of the pieces still had streaks of tarnish. We found we could quickly remove them by rubbing lightly with our favorite tool: an ultra ultra fine contour sanding sponge; it was as though the baking soda solution had loosened the tarnish, and it was just waiting to be cleaned off. (You could also use a dab of silver polish to sparkle the silver up; some have a silicone coating that keeps silver from tarnishing quickly.) When the foil became darkened and discolored, we replaced it with new to clean another batch of silver.

Sally Schneider

cleaning silver foil after
Sally Schneider

We got a mountain of silver done in no time, for little effort and money.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

This seriously works!

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

8 replies on “how to speed clean silver

  1. Cream of tomato soup does it every time. And you don’t have to heat the soup!

  2. i think it is beautiful without polishing. it speaks to age, use, and process…real wabi-sabi.

  3. I hear you. I tend not to worry about polishing things much…love the patina on my copper pots, collected over years of traveling and cooking. But I have to say, this silver wasn’t a pleasure to use any longer..It needed a spring cleaning.

  4. Ah. I seem to remember hearing that. Will try one of these days. Perhaps, it would be the good touch up polish, once the big tarnish is knocked off in the sink. Thanks.

  5. This seems to be a good use of aluminum foil, though if there are alternatives you might consider using those . There is already too much aluminum around ( probably even where you would not expect it ) and the way it is produced , from what i have seen , is comparable to a horror story ( s. info here : , for example ) .
    Not to spoil the post, just feel it is important information .

    good vibes ~

  6. I think you could just use a piece of aluminum. Keep it on hand to re-use and re-use…(but you’d need to wash the tarnish off.)

  7. you can use a disposable aluminimum pan instead of lining a sink with tinfoil. Grab some at the dollar store. Works like a charm.

  8. Why didn’t I think of that?!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *